Falkon Digital go back to School - SASchool

Falkon Digital back to School – SASchool

By Falkon Digital on June 12, 2015

Falkon Digital sent our Marketing Apprentice Luke Richardson to SAS School, the little sister of the renowned SASCon. Here is what he thought…

Considering the talk was only £10 it had to be one of the most useful SEO experiences I’ve ever had. The wide array of speakers and topics ranging from Ben Mckay’s Organic performance lecture to Barry Adams reasonably explicit rant on robots and them taking over of the internet with big corporate money. It really did engage you and make you think about different aspects of SEO and the rapid change in such a diverse industry.

Morning With Ben Mckay on SEO Fundamentals

The talk started off with Ben Mckay taking the lead and discussing about how the SEO industry has changed so much in the last 15 years and in the future “it will never be as slow moving as it is right now”. In other words SEO is evolving and every year it evolves quicker. He also mentioned as with this speed there is grey areas evolving around the disciplines. The very disciplines that are fundamentally keeping SEO intact are starting to show cracks and could be the very reason for failure of SEO in the future.

Examples backing these changes, like the mobile algorithm, really did put the whole thing into perspective. Not only were we learning about the key fundamentals behind organic performance but we were also being enlightened to how much we will need to develop our skill set in the next few years to be able to give us a wider range of skills and allow us to be able to keep on top of a fast evolving SEO industry.

Keyword Research Lecture

We then received a talk about how Keyword Research has a massive effect on your overall SEO and how it lays the foundation for your content and marketing strategies. Being given software options like Hitwise, Search Metrics and Keyword planner, it really helped us be able to get to grips with how we could implement many different methods of keyword research in the future. This would give us a much wider yet precise range of keywords to be able to put more pressure and focus on our content channels when it came to trying to drive that all important traffic through our newly learnt SEO skills.

We were advised on the different tools and methods to be able to streamline and filter our keyword list. This was through eradicating misspellings, irrelevant keywords, duplicates and capitalisation. Allowing us to be able to make sure we had our primary focus on the words that mattered and to make sure we could concentrate fully on those said words. Finally, we were told that there was an importance in sub categories and categories keywords to be able to monitor large groups in one place.  An example would be for a banking company, say that said bank gave bank accounts, loans and mortgages. It would have sub groups of keywords that brought in traffic for those main three main market segments and not just simply a lot of keywords pushing all the traffic equally to each. This would bring in traffic that wanted to convert rather than bounce when it came to content.

Coffee Break and Brainstorm

After all of this there was certainly a small 20 minute coffee break that was much needed. In this break I managed to venture to the bottom of 2 large Americano black coffees and have a chance to talk to others that attended about their courses and recommendations. I would say that around 90% of the people at the event advised that I used LinkedIn and other well known social networks and gave me key individuals that I could follow for tips and trends in the industry and to be able to see how the industry was changing in the future. I was shown and enlightened to a vast array of sources and methods that you simply don’t learn when in a class room. These methods where more home made and tested rather than company trailed and proven but the logic and theory is strong enough to be able to understand how they work. This diverse learning curve has helped me be able to change and alter places where I was going maybe concentrating in the wrong area or on the wrong topic in the past and improve my efficiency when it comes to SEO.

It also gave us a chance to be able to socialise and compare notes with each other, which helped me also share my ideas and incites with the group. Especially on the things I had picked up from reading in-between the lines of what the speakers were saying and the information they were portraying.

On Site Optimisation

The midday talk was only for one hour and was focused primarily with the on page SEO in mind. It was here that we discussed the methods of optimisation and how to be able to really make your site commercially and SEO friendly. Things like the multiple Google algorithms came into line light and had their ideologies explained in more depth. This allowed us to be able to know not just more about the algorithms, but have an insight into the reasons behind them being created and implemented. Also, the overall effect they had on some of the major companies that rely on Google for traffic but were involved with black hat SEO.

We have also been shown how in theory Google treats the things you do on the site and the content you place by judging it. This is done through Google judging you on links and authority. We already knew a lot of this information but having our knowledge reinforced is never a bad thing. We were shown how to be able to use keywords in the right place and what keyword densities were more appropriate. Examples being for long tail keywords you want to be able to make them keyword rich but still very fit for purpose and commercially viable. This meant that when money supermarket used…

“Compare Cheap Car Insurance Online”

This small phrase actually has at least 10 different variations to be able to allow it to show up on Google. These keyword variations are simply things like;

Compare Cheap Car Insurance,

Car insurance,

Compare insurance,

Car insurance,

Cheap car insurance,

Insurance online,

Online insurance,

And so on. Small things like completely making a title purely out of keywords yet be able to grab the audience’s attention never seemed as important as other aspects of SEO, as I always thought it would come across as a bit spam like, but looking back now I don’t know why I didn’t implement it more.

Finally, we were shown how the layout of the page and how the analytics of the page were also taken into account, in a lesser sense to be able to make sure the user journey was smooth and consistent. However, if we believed as an SEO company that the user experience was bad and it was showing in bounce rates, we would change it or advise you to do something about it long before it became a problem. So this part of the lecture was more a point of nerdy interest than a useful piece of information.

Lunch And Socialising

The SAS School was based in a university so there were lots of food places and getting something to eat was made simple with a small 30 second walk out of the doors. Luckily for us the day was bright and very very hot, we then sat on the grass outside talking with the other students and began conversing to be able to again compare notes and make the most of our expertise. As we had more time, this time around in comparison to the earlier break. We got to know each other on a more personal level and learnt peoples back stories, colleges, interests, likes and dislikes, ect. This helped me greatly understand why they had taken their selected strategies and how it helped there style of working. I also met some interesting bloggers at the event and people who had cornered small niche markets with their SEO skills to be able to make a more than fair amount of money to cover student expenses.

Things like this enabled me to be able to get some inspiration for my own private blog and some other Content channels I have control over. It should be interesting to be able to have the chance to be able to implement some of these new ideas in the next few days and weeks.


The afternoon talks consisted of PPC ads, Outreach and social media. These three subjects seemed to fly by in terms of time taken. It mainly reinforced knowledge I already had more than learnt new things but I still managed to be able to pick up a few new things to implement in the workplace.

It started with the PPC, this was an aspect of the day’s talks that kind of moved a little quick and the things I did pick up I already knew. However, reinforcing my knowledge and allowing me to see some of the reason and theory behind what I was doing is always good. Mainly, as I like to be able to see the bigger picture when I am doing something that is new to me or that I don’t fully understand. We looked at the basic PPC formats and some examples of were PPC might not be the best option (local business) along with some other smaller details but nothing that could have been a massive change in the industry.  Another example of PPC formatting could be when PPC is used to be able to advertise multiple pages on a site by using the four smaller sub PPC categories below the main header advertisement. We were also shown how PPC could be used as a short term traffic boost until the SEO could take full effect.

Offsite Optimisation

Around mid afternoon we touched on outreach. This is something I really enjoy doing so I was really in my element here. We were shown peak times for different industries and how to go about researching your peak times for your demographic when it comes to emailing people and using forums. We were also shown how to spot a bad SEO spammer pretending to be a blogger or an interested third party on some sites. This will come in handy in the future when trying to get links as collaborations between SEO specialists for links can usually not be a bad thing. We were also introduced to tools such as Google Alerts and shown how to be able to try and bend Google trends to be able to see what forums people are looking for. Enabling us to be able to target the bigger markets first and work our way down.

Social Media Lecture

The latest educational talk we had was the social media talk. This was held by the Juice Apprentice program and they shared with us some of the various software’s they prefer to use and the aspects they go for dependent on client. After it was over we hit the questions for 20 minutes and this slowly turned into a group debate from everyone in the lecture more than a Q&A which slowly allowed me to be able to get to grips with the whole groups views rather than just the lecturers. The different social networks appealing to different industries and demographics came up along with a few examples of wittiness and humour being used to be able to sway people towards big companies. I definitely picked up a few things in this lecture.

Final Talk – Click Here to View

We finished off with Barry Adams; Barry is very outspoken in the SEO Comunity and doesn’t hold back in his thought provoking thoughts and facts about the Google Corporation and big online companies on the whole. He started by pointing out the flaws in the whole of Google’s ethos. Once he started bringing examples and facts to the table it seemed evident that Barry wasn’t simply just saying it for the sake of it, he had clearly passionately researched many documents, search queries and legal proceedings to be able to get the information he needed to be able to disgrace the big names of online media. He even took a stab at Facebook for having privacy issues as they know everything about us, yet Mark Zuckerberg has near enough bought his whole street out and sued his neighbour for letting paparazzi into their property. Pointing out these small ironies left us all laughing after a long day and made the day all that more enjoyable.


As soon as this was finished we were given a token for a pint at a local bar and had a spread of food out for us. This gave the whole atmosphere, in the small Kro Bar just down oxford road, an amazing feeling and gave us one last networking opportunity to discuss the day’s events and adding each other on social media forums and LinkedIn before calling it a day and getting ready to be able to implement what we had learnt in the SEO industry in work the next day.


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